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US natural gas weekly EIA stock draw seen at 122 bcf

[WASHINGTON] US utilities likely pulled 122 billion cubic feet of natural gas from storage during the slightly warmer-than-normal week ended Jan 30, analysts told Reuters in a poll on Wednesday.

If correct, that would top the 94-bcf decrease in the prior week, but fall well short of the 259-bcf draw in the same week a year ago and the 165-bcf five-year average draw.

The US Energy Information Administration will release the storage report on Thursday at 10:30am EST (1530 GMT).

Temperatures in the US lower 48 states were a little warmer-than-normal last week with 183 heating degree days, according to Thomson Reuters Analytics.

That was a little more than the 169 HDDs in the prior week, but fell short of the 254 HDDs in the same week a year ago and the 30-year norm of 198 HDDs.

Heating degree days, or the number of degrees that a day's average temperature remains below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius), are used to estimate demand to heat homes and businesses. They are often weighted to reflect state and regional population differences.

The forecast 122-bcf withdrawal last week would bring total inventories down to 2.421 trillion cubic feet, the least since August.

That would leave total storage about 24 per cent over levels in the same week a year ago but still 1 per cent below the five-year average.

Analysts expect near record production will help push inventories over the five-year average in the next week or two.

Over the prior four weeks, utilities pulled 677 bcf of gas from storage. That compares with 769 bcf in the same period a year ago and a five-year average decrease of 679 bcf.

The Reuters poll had 21 participants, with withdrawal estimates ranging from 104 bcf to 141 bcf. The median estimate was for a draw of 123 bcf, while the average was for a decrease of 122 bcf.

Early estimates for the next storage report for the week ending Feb 6 range between withdrawals of 170 bcf and 197 bcf, with an average draw of 181 bcf.

That would fall well short of the 234-bcf draw during the same week in 2014 but would be be in line with the five-year average draw of 178 bcf.

REUTERS